Historic Portland Concert Series Time Sound Revived for Two Free Summer Concerts

Time Sound was a 1980s concert series that gave Albina neighborhood jazz musicians a stage to play any kind of music they wanted.

A Time Sound concert from 1983. (Courtesy of Albina Music Trust.)

Time Sound, the storied jazz, blues and gospel choir concert series, is coming back bigger and better for its second revival shows through the archival project Albina Music Trust. Co-founded by trumpeter and music educator Thara Memory, who died in 2017, Time Sound debuted in 1981 at the Keller Auditorium and concluded around 1989. Time Sound concerts gave a stage for the Albina neighborhood’s jazz musicians to play everything from African folk to Western classical music.

“Every program is unique because we have to be sensitive to the times that we’re in,” says AMT board president Ken Berry, who founded Time Sound with Memory. “Right now, we need to build unity. This program is an opportunity to bring people across all cultural backgrounds. Music builds harmony, it builds unity, it builds love, and that’s what we’re all about, is bringing an opportunity to bring everyone together. It’s more than love, it’s a connection to our ancestry.”

After a Time Sound set closed out the 2022 Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, the series returns for two free summer concerts. Its first show opens the Pioneer Courthouse Square’s 40th anniversary festival on Saturday, July 20. Its second, to be held Saturday, Aug. 24, at Patton Square Park’s Celebrating Black Arts and Culture gathering, is part of Portland Parks & Recreation’s Summer Free for All concert series.

Marquay Seamster will lead the Upper Room Live Band and guest saxophonist Eldon T. Jones on July 20, as Time Sound opens a concert with Portland Festival Symphony celebrating Pioneer Square’s 40th anniversary. The Time Sound Choir will feature Arietta Ward, MaryEtta Callier, Nafasaria Matthews and LaRhonda Steele in its vocal ensemble, while members of the children’s choir Youthsound help fill out the Time Sound Choir with guest appearances Anise Hall-Richie and Thara’s daughter, Tahirah Memory. As the evening’s emcee, AMT board member Calvin Walker will connect the concert’s songs to PFS’s former director, Lajos Balogh, and the late Memory.

“Thara Memory and Lajos were such an instrument in regards to helping the Albina community back in the ’70s and ’80s,” Berry says. “[They] really began to spread not only the instructional opportunities for people of Albina, but also preserving and documenting the history of it.”

The Summer Free For All show at Patton Square Park supports the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center’s artist residency program. Attendees can see trumpeter Noah Simpson, keyboardist Charlie Brown III, bassist Peter Knudsen, vibraphonist Matt Sazima and drummer Dae Bryant play with vocalists Lo Steele and Zyanna Melada.

Time Sound offers a secular setting for those previously unacquainted with gospel choirs.

“This is a rare thing for folks in the city of Portland to get to experience,” says Bobby Smith, AMT’s executive director. “There’s a rich tradition in Northeast Portland among African Americans with gospel choirs. Ken is really bringing together an all-star lineup of a lot of different folks in the community to put this one together.”

SEE IT: Time Sound at Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 SW 6th Ave., thesquarepdx.org. 4–5 pm Saturday, July 20. Free. All ages. // Time Sound at Patton Square City Park, 5304 N Interstate Ave., portland.gov/parks. 6 pm Saturday, August 24. Free. All ages.

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